Winter Waiting for Spring

- jan-u-wine

It is the year 1380 S.R.
or
 
2980 by the King's Reckoning.
 
I am twelve years old.
 
I know no other place
except this,
 
I wish to know
no other place.
 
It is pleasant here,
 
quite apart from the
noise
and crowding of the
Great Hall.
 
Sometimes,
at Yule,
Uncle visits.
 
He tells me tales
of Elves and hoarded treasure -
 
and what it is like
to live within a hill-side.
 
Sometimes,
I think
 
I would like to see the Elves
and
the treasure for myself,
or find my rest within a rounded room.
 
It is 1380 and it is Summer.
 
There has been drinking and dancing
within the cavern of the Great Hall.
 
Only the sweet sigh of the river,
as it laughs on its way to the Sea,
enters my dreams.
 
The river and my dreams......
__________________________
 
How long I have stood at the window,
watching the moon flow upon
the water,
I do not know.
 
I hear them, you know.
 
I am the only one who does,
anymore,
 
so
 
I must keep looking
and listening
for them.
 
I must,
or they will be forgotten.
 
My hand holds Da's pipe.
 
Uncle came yesterday
and gave it to me.
 
The pale length of it, he said,
is made from the horn of a mighty
animal, all dressed in grey.
 
I think Uncle is trying to humour me.
 
He tells me funny little things,
now,
things which mean nothing.
 
I heard Aunt Esme say
when she thought I could not hear,
that I needed
distracting.
 
And so Uncle tells me of stars that wander
in skies which never were,
 
and Lords and Ladies
that lived in lands
where now abides nothing save water.
 
Uncle had not thought when he told me that.
 
I know he had not thought.
 
Now he is speaking
of simple things:
 
the rain that fell
like a grey cloak
on the roses at Bag-End,
 
(a funny name for a home, that)
 
the seed-cake he had for tea
a fortnight ago....
 
the addition of a boy-child
to his gardener's family.
 
Being that he is Uncle,
he noted the day:
 
Yestare.
 
First-Day.
 
The Elvish New Year.
 
A day of Spring.
 
A day of Hope.
___________________
 
Long after Uncle has left,
in the night that is darker
than the inside of any cave,
 
I dream.
 
I see a road,
winding
further than I could
ever walk  
 
and stars,
 
caught like cold jewels
in a black sky.....
 
and
 
a face I have never seen before,
with eyes like beech-leaves.
 
________________________
 
Winter, 1380.
 
The Brandywine does not sing
or sigh
or even move
beneath its covering of crystal.
 
I do not remember why
it was my custom to look
upon its darkened face.
 
Laughter
moves like smoke
through the Hall.
 
Uncle stands just inside
the door,
throwing the snow from his feet
in chill rivers
upon the tile.
 
He sees me,
reading
in the dull hearth-light,
and winks.
 
He is taking me
on an Adventure.
___________________
 
I have never been outside
Buckland before,
never ridden upon a pony.
 
It is cold, deep night
when Aunt Esme kisses my brow.
 
Uncle Sara shakes my hand
as if I were grown.
 
I am frightened and excited
all at once.
 
I like the sound of the pony's
hooves
upon the frozen ground,
 
the sight of the lemon moon
walking in water.
 
Morning is just coming up
as we cross a grey-stoned
stream
 
and a field lying fallow in creeping fog.
 
A gentle hill is before us,
 
peaceful in its coat of winter.
 
I know this is Uncle's home.
 
A warming fire waits in the hearth within
and
the seed-cake he spoke of to me
so long ago steams upon the board.
 
A plain-dressed, grey-eyed lady
takes my cloak
and touches my cheek,
soft, like mumma used to.
 
Uncle tells me her name is Bell.
 
I smile.  

Her name is like music,
like Elves,
like the Sea on a wind-swept day.
 
Her market basket,
(or so I imagine),
lies covered by the hearth.
 
What secret might Bell,
the plain, grey-eyed
lady of the Sea,
conceal within that woven straw?
 
It is good that the sturdy  
floor
waits such a short distance
beneath me.
 
In dreams,
 
in dreams
I have seen these eyes,
seen what this small face,
with age, shall become.
 
I do not know what it all means.
 
It must be
part
of the Adventure.
 
It must be Winter,
waiting for Spring.